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Form and Function
Square-proportioned, compact and of a stocky build, the Pug is a large dog in a little space. Their gait is strong and jaunty, but with a slight roll of the hindquarters. Their distinctive expression is soft and solicitous. Their forehead has large, deep wrinkles. Their coat is fine, smooth, and short.
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The Pug has been known by many names: Mopshond in Holland (which refers to its grumbling tendencies); Mops in Germany, and Dutch or Chinese Pug in England. The word Pug is derived either from the Latin pugnus meaning fist, as the head may have resembled a clenched fist, or from the marmoset “Pug” monkeys that the Pug dogs somewhat resemble.
Whatever the name, one thing is true: the Pug’s official motto “Multum in Parvo” (a lot in a little) fits them exactly. The Pug is somewhat of an exception in the Toy Group because they are perhaps the only one to be descended from mastiff forebears. Although their exact ancestry has been lost in antiquity, the Pug retains many mastiff characteristics.
The Pug is an ancient breed, one of several miniaturized in the Orient, where they were a favorite pet of Buddhist monasteries in Tibet many centuries ago. In China, the facial wrinkles were an essential breed feature, most notably the “prince mark,” or vertical wrinkle on their forehead, which bore a resemblance to the Chinese character for “prince.”
Pugs probably came to Holland by way of the Dutch East India Trading Company. Here they became quite popular and were recognized as the official dog of the House of Orange after one saved the life of Prince William by sounding an alarm at the approach of Spanish soldiers in 1572.
By 1790, the Pug could be found in France; Napoleon’s wife Josephine used her Pug to carry messages to Napoleon when she was imprisoned. Pugs were first brought to England during Victorian times and became incredibly popular with the wealthy, displacing the King Charles Spaniel as the favored royal breed. Several Pugs were brought to England from China in 1886. A year earlier, the breed had been recognized by the AKC. Since that time, they have remained popular a pet.
A delightful blend of dignity and comedy, the Pug is an amiable, playful, and confident companion. They can be stubborn and headstrong, but they are pleasant and generally willing to please. They love to cavort and show off.
The Pug needs daily exercise, either in the form of a lively game or a moderate walk. They do not do well in heat and humidity. They needs minimal coat care but daily cleaning of facial wrinkles. Their smooth coat needs only occasional brushing to remove dead hairs; however, the wrinkles need regular cleaning and drying to prevent skin infections. The Pug may often wheeze and snore.
- Major concerns: Pug dog encephalitis, CHD, brachycephalic syndrome
- Minor concerns: elongated palate, stenotic nares, patellar luxation, Legg-Perthes, entropion, KCS, skin infections, hemivertebra
- Occasionally seen: seizures, nerve degeneration, distichiasis, allergies, demodicosis
- Suggested tests: eye, hip, knee, DNA Pug dog encephalitis
- Life span: 12–15 years
- Note: The Pug cannot tolerate heat and is sensitive to anesthesia. They are prone to corneal abrasion and obesity.